Joe Franklin

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Joe Franklin
Joe Franklin.jpg
Born Joseph Fortgang
(1926-03-09) March 9, 1926 (age 88)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Occupation Television and radio personality
Years active 1951–present

Joe Franklin (born Joseph Fortgang on March 9, 1926) is an American radio and television host personality from New York City, best known for the television talk-and-variety show format that set the standard for television talk shows. His show began in 1951 on WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV) and moved to WOR-TV (later WWOR-TV) from 1962 to 1993.[1] He interviewed over 100,000 guests during his 43 year career.


As a teenager Franklin "followed around" Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor, who eventually began buying jokes from the young Franklin and whose Carnegie Hall show he later produced. Franklin began his entertainment career aged sixteen as a record picker on Martin Block's Make Believe Ballroom radio show. He is considered an authority on popular culture of the first half of the 20th century, including silent film. He was also called "the King of nostalgia" for focusing on old-time show-business personalities. Franklin was also a pioneer in promoting products such as Hoffman Beverages and Ginger Ale on the air.

After retiring from the television show, Franklin concentrated on an overnight radio show, playing old records on WOR-AM on Saturday evenings. He currently interviews celebrities on the Bloomberg Radio Network.[2]

Famous guests[edit]

His guests included (sometimes on the same panel) both the legends, such as Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby and Captain Lou Albano, five U.S. Presidents, with many unknown local New York performers, such as Tiny Tim and Morris Katz, punk bands, self-published authors, "tribute" impersonator lounge singers, which give the show a surreal atmosphere. Noted guitarist Arlen Roth was doing onstage Joe Franklin routines in the 1970s with sax/keyboard player Timmy Capello in his band. Capello later brought the routine to Crystal when he toured with him. Producer Richie Ornstein has worked side-by-side with Franklin for decades and was a standard feature on the Joe Franklin Show to interact with guests and to discuss trivia.[1]

Many of today's well known talents such as Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Julia Roberts got their first television exposure on The Joe Franklin Show. Others, notoriously shy of live interviews, made frequent appearances on Franklin's programs: Frank Sinatra, for instance, appeared four times.

Producer Steve Garrin booked and recorded Joe Franklin's celebrity interviews for many years, on both his WOR and WBBR, Bloomberg Radio shows at VideoActive Productions/VoiceWorks® Sound Studios (1991–2010), NYC.

In 1999, Joe Franklin and Steve Garrin partnered with restaurant mogul Dennis Riese to open "Joe Franklin's Memory Lane Restaurant". It continued to operate as Joe Franklin's Comedy Club until February 2010.

In media[edit]

He has appeared as himself in countless films, notably Ghostbusters and Broadway Danny Rose. Franklin would appear on the very first episode of This American Life giving host Ira Glass advice on how to have a successful show. He was also a guest on an early episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

Franklin has been mentioned several times on The Simpsons and appeared regularly with Conan O'Brien. He is also seen on The David Letterman Show and Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.

Franklin's show was often parodied by Billy Crystal during the 1984–1985 season of Saturday Night Live.

In the 2005 film The Aristocrats, comedian Sarah Silverman tells a facetious story about Franklin raping her as a child. Franklin, who also appears in the film, considered filing a defamation lawsuit against Silverman.[3]

In 2014, Franklin starred in Owen Kline and Andrew Lampert's short film Jazzy for Joe, which featured Franklin raising an abandoned baby discovered on his doorstep.[4]

Selected books[edit]

  • 1953 The Marilyn Monroe Story, R. Field Company; Greenberg,
  • 1959 Classics of the Silent Screen: A Pictorial Treasury, The Citadel press (reprinted in 2013 by Literary Licensing, LLC),
  • 1974 Joe Franklin's Memory Lane Cookbook, Lion Books, ISBN 9780874602425
  • 1980 Joe Franklin's Awfully Corny Joke Book, Chelsea House Publishers, ISBN 9780877541424
  • 1981 Seventy Years of Great Film Comedians: A Joe Franklin Memory Lane Scrapbook, Global Communications, ISBN 9780938294061
  • 1985 Joe Franklin's Encyclopedia of comedians, Bell Pub. Co., ISBN 9780517467657
  • 1992 Joe Franklin's movie trivia, Hastings House, ISBN 9780803893481
  • 1995 Up Late With Joe Franklin, Scribner, ISBN 9780025407756


  1. ^ a b Hinckley, David (November 26, 1999). "Joe Franklin: Truth in Packaging". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-01-01. 
  2. ^ "Bloomberg Radio Shows: Bloomberg on the Weekend". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ Goodyear, Dana (October 24, 2005). "Quiet Depravity". The New Yorker. 
  4. ^ Adams, Cindy, New York Post, May 21, 2014, "Felicity Huffman to play a gritty mom on ‘American Crime’" Retrieved 2014-05-23

External links[edit]